By Jason Tanamor
Esther Ku, one of last year’s standout in “Last Comic Standing,” recently took the time to sit down with me for a hilarious interview.
Q - You were recently on "Last Comic Standing." How has this helped or hurt your career?
A – “Last Comic Standing” has helped my career by teaching me that comedians don't like it when I laugh at their jokes. So now, I carry a muzzle on the road to make the ride more bearable for others. “Last Comic Standing” may have hurt my career because they censored about three-quarters of my material in order to appease the primetime advertisers on NBC. By the time they cut all my material on sex, drugs, and masturbation, all that was left were jokes about paying for dinner, bulimia, and immigration. It felt great to be released from the show so I can go back to doing my original material. Overall it has helped my career. “Last Comic Standing” placed me on the map of comedians. A few weeks after the show aired, Jim Norton played a clip on the Opie and Anthony show. He said “Esther Ku is crazy.” I was like, “Wow. That is so cool! Jim Norton thinks I am crazy. What a compliment.”
Q - The only other Asian comics I know are Chinaman and Margaret Cho. So, stereotypes include great at Math, small wee wees, and bad drivers. How did comedy come into your life?
A - Well, I do believe that my mom had a lifelong desire to be a comedian. She was always going up to strangers asking them if they wanted to meet Jesus. People would laugh at her. I was like, “Wow! This is funny. My parents moved here to teach Americans the gospel.” When I wasn't rehearsing with my church orchestra, I wrote for the school newspaper. I wrote stories poking fun at the hypocrisy of the faculty and administration of my high school. People always told me they thought my columns were funny. The newspaper was published on Wednesdays and I secretly wanted to peer into every classroom to see which lines got people to laugh. I didn't know it at the time but that in essence is stand-up comedy. Then I wanted to go to college to study music but my parents wouldn’t let me. So I said, “Fine. If I can’t be a musician, I'll be a comedian.”
Q - Do you think being a minority and a woman makes it harder to succeed in the business?
A - No. If I thought that being a minority and a woman would make it harder to succeed, I would never succeed. I think being funny and confident in my talents help me succeed. And I give pretty good blow jobs, although I’ve never utilized that skill to get ahead in the business.
Q - I thought you were way funnier than some of those that advanced to the final stage of “Last Comic Standing.” A comedian friend of mine told me that a lot of the contestants' managers are producers on the show. So, what really went on at LCS?
A - I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. There were rooms in the house that were off limits. Maybe some contestants were taken there for a clandestine meeting with the producers.
Q - Do you think being on a reality show like LCS diminishes a person's success versus hitting the clubs and being noticed by a talent scout?
A - I think it all depends on how you portray yourself. If you're a memorable character, there is a better chance of prolonged success. I think if you act like a complete ass, like Papa CJ did when he told Iliza Shlesinger, “Welcome to the big leagues, sweetheart,” then you'll probably go back to India and hibernate for a few years. I recently had to roast Omarosa (Manigault-Stallworth) from “The Apprentice” at the Friars Club. She arrived with an entourage of fellow contestants from the show that have all reverted to their regular day jobs. Omarosa seems like the smartest one of the bunch. Even though she was fired several times by Donald Trump, she is making a career off being labeled a bitch. I commend her.
Q - Is Esther Ku the comedienne similar to Esther Ku the regular day to day person?
A - HA HA HA!!! Ask my family.
Q - How difficult is it to keep your material fresh on a nightly basis?
A - It can be very difficult to keep my material fresh if I'm going through a long period of celibacy. And by a long period I mean two to three days. A lot of funny things happen on the way to an orgasm that I just cannot keep them to myself. What I find to be most difficult is learning how to console my boyfriends after I've just revealed intimate secrets to a room full of strangers. These are the sacrifices I make for you people!
Q - What sort of things do you like to do on the road?
A - I usually like to check into my hotel room early, put on some reggae and vacuum my oriental rug if you know what I mean. It clears my mind of any worries and gets me in a happy mood. Oh and I always request a king-sized bed because that way I can fit sideways if I'm in a hurry.
Q - Jim Carrey said that comedians are typically depressed people, and that is why they do stand-up. Is this true for you?
A - What? That we are depressed and so we do stand-up comedy to make you people feel less depressed for a temporary period of time? Sure that may be true. But who is more depressed, the audience or the comedian? You guys are the ones paying to relieve your depression. Audiences outsource their conversations to hired comedians who take their mind off their daily troubles so they can laugh at the troubles of someone else. And whenever I look into the audience, people are always drinking alcohol. It seems like everybody is depressed.
Q - A lot of comedians end up developing sitcoms. If you had a chance to have your own TV show, what type of show would it be?
A - It would be of a little girl growing up whose parents are clueless missionaries from Korea. She breaks out of a religious cult that attempted to convert Americans to Christianity. She is a classically trained musician and has incredible fingering techniques that come in handy later in life. She starts a sexual revolution in Korea. The unwed mothers there rid themselves of the shame they once bore and decide to keep their babies rather than give them up for adoption. And everyone lives happily ever after. So most of it will take place in my childhood years. I'll narrate the sitcom and hire actors. I don't have to be in it.
Q - Anything else?
A - Thank you for the interview. This was fun!
Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous."
By Jason Tanamor